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Legal Research Quick Reference Guide

2020

Research Methodology

Step 1:  Preliminary Analysis

  • Analyze the relevant facts (who, what, where, when) and identify the relevant area(s) of law, jurisdiction(s), issue(s) to be researched, and key legal and factual terms

Step 2:  Secondary Source(s) Research

Step 3:  Locate and Analyze Primary Law

  • Examine citations from relevant secondary sources and/or cases
  • Consult annotations (e.g. notes of decisions) in statutory/regulatory codes
  • Conduct full-text searches of primary law sources (Natural Language or Terms & Connectors)
  • Search by headnote topic(s) / key number(s)
  • Use citator(s) (e.g., Shepard's, KeyCite) to expand your research

Step 4:  Update your research

  • Use citator(s) (e.g., Shepard's, KeyCite) to check the validity of your primary law sources

Step 5:  Conclude your research

  • Check for thoroughness
  • May need to go back and repeat certain steps if you have uncovered new issues or facts